Preview: Nottingham Forest vs. Newcastle United
Seeking to boost their chances of securing Champions League football for next season, Newcastle United travel to the City Ground to face Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Friday night.
While the Tricky Trees have not lost a league game on home soil since October, the Magpies are still searching for their first top-flight away victory in 2023.
Following a run of just one win in their last seven Premier League matches, Nottingham Forest find themselves embroiled in one of the most hotly-contested relegation battles in years, with just five points separating the bottom nine teams in the table.
Steve Cooper’s side were condemned to a 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, with Joe Worrall heading home a consolation goal in the final 10 minutes after strikes from Harry Kane (2) and Son Heung-min settled the contest in North London.
Forest remain 14th in the current standings but after five of the six teams below them picked up points last weekend, fears of an immediate return to the Championship are beginning to creep in as the Tricky Trees are now sitting just two points above the relegation zone.
Forest’s away form in the Premier League leaves a little to be desired this term, as they have accumulated a paltry six points in 13 games on the road – the joint-fewest in the division – but they will welcome Friday’s return to the City Ground where they have put together an impressive nine-game unbeaten run – only Manchester United (12) boast a longer unbeaten home run in the top flight.
Indeed, 77% of their Premier League points have been picked up at home this season – the highest percentage in the division – and having beaten Newcastle in their last two home meetings, the Tricky Trees will be confident of returning to winning ways as they bid to steer themselves clear of the drop zone.
Newcastle picked up three crucial points and ended a five-game winless run when they secured a 2-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at St James’ Park on Sunday.
Alexander Isak’s first-half opener was cancelled out in the 70th minute by Hwang Hee-chan, but just nine minutes later, Miguel Almiron – who was dropped to the substitutes’ bench for the first time this season – came on to net the winning goal to ensure that the Magpies remain firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish.
Eddie Howe’s men capitalised on Liverpool’s surprise loss to Bournemouth by climbing into fifth place in the Premier League table, and although they remain four points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, the Magpies have two games in hand including a home fixture against Spurs at the end of April.
Newcastle head into Friday’s encounter having already beaten Nottingham Forest this season, with second-half goals from Fabian Schar and Callum Wilson securing a routine 2-0 win at St James’ Park back in August – a result that extended their unbeaten run against the Tricky Trees in the top flight to nine matches.
However, the Magpies have failed to win any of their last four league games on the road, scoring just once in the process, while the Premier League’s best defence have now conceded in each of their last five matches, something that Howe will be keen to rectify against a Forest side who have scored in 12 of their 13 league matches at the City Ground this season.
Nottingham Forest Premier League form:
Newcastle United Premier League form:
Newcastle United form (all competitions):
We say: Nottingham Forest 0-2 Newcastle United
Forest have fared much better on home soil so far this season and will hope that the City Ground faithful can spur them on once again as they bid to climb away from the relegation zone.
However, the potential absence of Johnson and Wood could see the hosts struggle to pose a threat in front of goal, and with Newcastle heading into Friday’s game in buoyant mood following last weekend’s victory, we can see the Magpies edging out the Tricky Trees in a tight affair.